Let me begin by once again thanking you, the representatives of Councils and Assemblies from across the Archdiocese, for the support which you give to the Church and the community in our Archdiocese.
I want to thank you, in particular, for organizing the Seminarian Mass and Dinner which brought out so many people in Belleville and provided an enjoyable evening of support for our seminarians.
In April of this year, I had a meeting with Bill Coppens and Val Dumais, and we discussed how the Knights could focus on parish or regional needs across the Archdiocese. It was agreed at that time that I would make a presentation here today.
When we talk about needs and how the Knights might help parishes meet them, we have to back up a little and ask a rather basic question: what is the reason we have parishes – that we have an Archdiocese?
Perhaps the easiest way to express this would be to refer to the Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
The purpose of the Church is to make disciples. To be a disciple is to be a learner – to learn from and about Jesus. At the heart of every parish, we need a community of growing, maturing believers who are committed to lifelong learning – who are discovering their God-given talents – who are prepared to serve and eventually become apostles (one who is sent) to the lukewarm, the fallen away, and those on the fringes (peripheries) of society.
At our recent Convocation, the priests of the Archdiocese reflected on this with Father J. Ronald Knott, a priest from Louisville, Kentucky, who spoke to us about the Spriritual Leadership of the Priest – which is basically working at making disciples who will become apostles.
The greatest need is to increase the number (what some estimate to be about 10%) of our parishioners who have a desire to be disciples and apostles. Following is an excerpt from Divine Renovation, a book by Father James Mallon:
“Over the last 50 years, our society has witnessed what can arguably be called the most accelerated social change in human history. As we have moved through several paradigm shifts in the last generation, the pastoral practice of the Catholic Church in the West remains, for the most part, unchanged from what existed prior to this state of flux. Culture supported faith and church attendance. Demographics supported our pastoral development through the birth of children and the movement of migrants. We just had to build it and people would come. I do not believe we were particularly good at making disciples 50 years ago, but it was not obviously to our detriment. As long as we would go and open churches, there were always new communities of migrants and new babies. As long as we baptized and taught in our schools, we pumped out good “practising Catholics”. In a sense, we got away with not making disciples, because the culture propped it all up. Fast forward through the 60s, the sexual revolution, mass media, new media, post-modernism, materialism, relativism, individualism, hedonism, and every other ‘ism’ we can think of and all of a sudden the fault lines are revealed for all to see. . . . The fact is that the rules have all changed. We no longer have the cultural props we had before, and the social current has turned against us. The only solution going forward is to return to what Jesus asked of us 2,000 years ago: to not just make believers, or ‘practising Catholics’, but to make disciples. To make disciples. That’s it. This is the heart of the matter and the lens through which we are to evaluate all activity of the Church – all pastoral programs, all expenditures, and all use of our buildings.”
What is going on in our Archdiocese that can feed into this vision of Church?
1. Youth Conference (Shine Like the Son) for young people aged 13 – 18, which is being held at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Kingston on Saturday,October 17th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
2. Forming Intentional Disciples Workshop, led by Deacon Mark Ceznik, which is being held at the Providence Spirituality Centre on Saturday, November 28th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
3. Launch of the Jubilee of Mercy at our Archdiocesan Mass celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is being held at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Tuesday, December 8th at 7:30 p.m.
During the Jubilee Year, we are being invited to perform the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy as a way of extending God’s compassion and mercy to those in need.
One of the prominent symbols of a Jubilee year is the opening of the Holy Door in the Papal Basilica in Rome. For this Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has decreed that every diocesan cathedral – the mother church of the faithful in any particular diocese – is to have a Door of Mercy opened for the duration of the Holy Year. Our Door of Mercy will open on December 13, 2015. The Holy Door reminds us of Jesus’s words, “I am the door.” (John 10.7) To go through the Holy Door is a sign that one confesses that Jesus is Lord and is an indication of recommitment to and renewal of one’s faith.
In order to highlight the Holy Door, we will be embellishing one of the existing main inside entrances of the cathedral with symbols of the sacrament of Baptism, our entrance into the community of the faithful. If any of the councils or assemblies are able to assist us financially with this endeavour, it would be a way of contributing to the Jubilee of Mercy.